Forbes Coaches Council

Four Ways Businesses Can Go Virtual (Beyond The Usual Video Call)

Sometimes it can seem like our lives are all one big Zoom meeting in 2020. But for the business owner looking to connect with a client or customer safely and from a healthy distance, I can tell you from experience that you do have other options than using a web-based video conferencing platform to host a one-on-one meeting.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with connecting one-on-one through Zoom, Skype or whatever your software platform preference is. In fact, I highly recommend that and am involved in meetings like that all the time. But there are other ways we can all interact virtually. It doesn’t have to be one-on-one. There’s really no limit to what you can do virtually.

Virtual Workshops

These tend to be smaller gatherings where people can meet from anywhere across the country to discuss topics or complete a project.

But before you hold a virtual workshop with, say, potential clients, you will first want to set expectations for it. You want attendees to have a solid understanding of what you hope to accomplish during the workshop. This includes giving them a good idea of how the workshop will unfold, how they can interact with their fellow attendees and suggestions on how they can follow up with the workshop leaders and members when it’s all over.

It can be overwhelming to attend a virtual workshop — or anything virtual — but if you can do the proper planning in advance, anticipating questions and answering them, the actual experience will go much more smoothly.

Virtual Conferences And Expos

These are bigger gatherings and many times are two- or three-day affairs, often run by associations and industry trade groups or perhaps a corporation. Obviously, with the coronavirus, many physical conferences are being canceled and reverting to online. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. We at The Entrepreneur’s Source have been holding a virtual expo since 2013, long before we ever heard the term “social distancing.”

We started one because we recognized that individuals today do not want to deal with the nuances of in-person events and enjoy the convenience of being able to get the same information they would in-person, now from the comfort of their home. The platform allows individuals to do their education, awareness and discovery, but without having to travel, walk the expo floor and invest more money than needed. More people can be involved in a virtual conference when the travel costs are eliminated.

If you are finding that you’re feeling forced to stage a virtual conference instead of an in-person one, have courage. They were being done long before the pandemic, and after your first successful one, you just may find that you prefer doing them virtually. It’s less expensive to host, and your attendees have no travel costs. Everybody wins.

I will say, though, that it takes just about as much time to plan a virtual expo as it does an in-person one. You will have exhibitors on hand as live workshops, keynote speakers and networking events. Along with making sure you have the right technology in place, and marketing your virtual expo, it’s a very big deal, as you would imagine.

Virtual On-Demand Learning Systems

As a business owner, you may be looking to train a team member, and if you’re somebody who wants to be an entrepreneur, you may need or want mentoring. This means you may want to think about looking into the world of virtual on-demand learning systems. Some of the big platforms include uStudio, Software Advice and eloomi.

Along with one-on-one coaching in real-time, many of these platforms offer educational tutorials such as videos and podcasts.

Arguably, you can learn more through videos and podcasts, especially if you can circle back to the instructor on your own time for follow-up questions. Another advantage of hearing something on a podcast or video comes in being able to replay a key point if you happen to miss anything or would like to listen to it again. Virtual on-demand learning systems can be superior to being taught in real life simply because, if you’re like a lot of people, it may take you a few times to listen to new concepts to really internalize them.

Virtual Social Hours

These are a little like virtual conferences in that it’s usually a number of people on a Zoom call, but they tend to be looser and more relaxed. If you’re looking for ways to network, since large and even medium-sized social gatherings are generally off the table, a virtual social networking event can be a really pleasant way to shoot the breeze with colleagues and talk shop about kids or sports or whatever you want.

Obviously, the agenda is generally to discuss work, but if you set up a virtual social hour and make it clear that it’s a networking event, these can be effective ways to get to know people in your industry or an industry in which you want to be involved.

Yes, we all lose something when we can’t go out into the real world and interact and mingle in person, but the virtual world can be close to the same thing. These meetings have a great deal of value and bring us all together. Connecting and networking with people can change your life and keep team members and clients linked at a time when it is needed most. The best part is you don’t have to leave your home to benefit from these fantastic events.